Be discerning, Lorenzana advises military chief

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    DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday advised new Armed Forces chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay to be “discerning” in his actions and statements to media after he figured in a controversy.

    Gapay, after assuming the top military post on Monday last week, said he wants the use of social media be regulated under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 because, he said, it is being used by terrorists as a platform to recruit and even plan terrorist attacks.

    This statement drew flak from numerous sectors, including lawmakers who crafted the law.

    Last week, Lorenzana said freedom of speech and discourse would be violated if social media would be regulated.

    The law signed by President Duterte last month is subject of 27 petitions before the Supreme Court, questioning its constitutionality. The law took effect last month despite the absence of implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

    The justice department is drafting the IRR, and the Armed Forces is among government agencies giving inputs to the department.

    Lorenzana, asked what advise he gave Gapay after his misstep, said, “I told him if you are not sure of your answer, you do not answer. Just say, ‘I will find out or I will research the correct answer. Less talk, less mistake.”

    Gapay, while still Army chief, made news in June after he described as “murder” and “rubout” the killing of four Army intelligence personnel by policemen in Sulu. He publicly refuted an official police report that called the incident a “mis-encounter.”

    Lorenzana said he does not believe social media should be regulated. “To me, it’s a very good vehicle for people to air their grievances and everything.”

    Lorenzana also said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra promised to furnish him, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency a copy of the draft.

    “We’ll see what input we can make make but as of now, I will decline commenting because I have yet to see the draft,” said Lorenzana.

    On the growing number of petitions questioning the constitutionality of the law, Lorenzana said, “It’s in their (SC) court now, the ball is in their hands so let them do their jobs.”